by Rob Moseley
Thorpe, Oregon's No. 1 starter, threw seven shutout innings against Washington State on Thursday. One night before Gold was set to face the Cougars on Friday, Thorpe had set the bar pretty high.
"He's good at that," Gold said. "That's what aces are supposed to do."
So far in 2014, Gold has been pretty darn good, too. Locating his four-pitch mix well throughout the night — with one frustrating exception — Gold recorded his ninth win of the season as the Ducks took the second game of the series at PK Park, 6-3.
Oregon (30-10, 9-5 Pac-12) won its eighth straight game since dropping a heartbreaker at Washington on April 6, and is alone in third place in the conference after a loss Friday by UCLA. The series finale against WSU is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m.
Gold went seven innings and allowed six hits and three runs (two earned). He improved to 9-0, the best record in the NCAA and tied for the national lead in victories.
"Following (Thorpe) has brought me up," Gold said. "It's just a competitive thing, helps get the best out of us each week."
A control artist, Gold was frustrated to have issued a walk Friday, and also hit a batter. Both played a part in Washington State's two-run fifth inning, though by then Oregon had put together a five-run fourth.
In the wake of Ryon Healy's graduation, Oregon's hitters have desired to be a more complete lineup this spring, and the fourth inning Friday was a success in that regard. Five of the Ducks' eight hits came in the inning, including a two-out RBI bunt single by Steven Packard and a three-run double by Austin Grebeck two batters later.
"I think we've got a little bit of toughness to us," said UO coach George Horton, who celebrated his 700th career Division-I victory. "We've put together a pretty good string coming back from Seattle."
Grebeck's clutch double followed a strikeout in his only plate appearance Thursday, and a groundball out in his first at-bat Friday.
"I hadn't really proven I could hit a fastball, to them," the UO center fielder said. "I knew I had a pretty good chance of getting a fastball, and I was ready to square something up."
Grebeck also helped limit the damage in the top of the fifth. After Gold's walk and hit batter loaded the bases, Yale Rosen's double might have cleared the bases, had Grebeck not ended the inning by throwing out the runner from first at home plate.
"You have a general idea of where he's going to be," Grebeck said of his cutoff man. "And (right fielder Tyler Baumgarter) did a great job, letting me know where the fence was, how much room I had, so I could stop in time to have enough room to corral it and get it in quick enough."